Everyone in Tinariwen wears pastel robes, except one guitar player who wears brown. You would think, in a group of five jovial men, the one guy not wearing clothes that look inked by fingerpaint would be the band’s earthy timekeeper, the unembellished regular thumper. But this dude shreds. We got to their in store performance at Other Music early last night and inched close, watched the shred progress from near. His style was calm, unfettered the way Jim White plays drums, as though it was a lucky accident that he hit the notes he hit and somehow, with some special music magic, it sounded aligned and perfect. He didn’t use a pick, half strummed/half finger tapped. It was gentle, though; there was nothing aggressive about him, or the rest of the music. Tinariwen exists anomalous because they seem to fill so many Venn diagrams at once, the space between solos and drone; world music, jam band and monk chant; the avant garde and the perfectly inconspicuous. Their peculiar brand of electric blues is so wonderfully nebulous because of its simplicity; the choral aspect, five men sing-wailing over the simple patterns of one hand drum and basic bass. And last night in a tiny hot room that rugged beat repetition was guiding music for an early winter's inevitable life lull. We feel better now; thank you Mali.
November 29, 2007